The spirit of a nation’s food culture is not found in five-star hotels and costly restaurants, rather it is found in the roadside stalls and cheap street food shops. Vietnamese street food is as diverse and rich as any other nation. Street foods vary across Vietnam, with the central, northern, and southern recipes differing from each other. However, there are still several common national treasures that have captivated foreigners and locals alike. Here are some of the best Vietnamese food you must try while in Vietnam.
The real spirit of the culinary culture and astounding food history of Vietnam lies in Street foods. For a traveler in Vietnam, it can be a memorable experience to wave his way through thousands of Vietnamese street food joints, so here are a few foods that are included in the must-have list:
List of Best Vietnamese Foods
Pho, a popular noodles recipe, is arguably the best Vietnamese food. Generally, it comes in two variations, i.e. Beef Pho or Pho Bo, and Chicken Pho or Pho Ga. Both forms are famous in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the capital city. It is served for both lunch and breakfast. It is basically a light beef or chicken flavored broth. The spicy flavor of coriander and ginger makes this dish perfect. Spring onions, flat noodles, and bits of beef, pork, or chicken are also added in it. Some of the popular places where you can enjoy this dish include Pho Lam Nam Ngu, Pho Thin, and Pho Gia Truyen.
The Bun cha collection includes a plate of freshly made noodles, a bowl of fish sauce with fermented carrot and papaya, and meat like pork as grilled sliced or grilled balls. If you want to taste Bun Cha in Vietnam, visit Bun cha 27 Dao Duy Tu or Bun Cha Huong Lien. The fame of Bun Cha makes it an inseparable part of Vietnamese street food culture.
This is another best Vietnamese food. It is known as the Vietnamese version of lemon tea and is the favorite among the locals. Available in almost all the street corners of Saigon and Hanoi, you must make it a point to enjoy this tasty drink by sitting on the delicate plastic chairs like the locals. It is one of the interesting street foods in Vietnam.
Bun Bo Hue
Bun Bo Hue is a popular noodle soup recipe belonging to once the imperial city of Hue, made with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and beef broth. In this, the noodles are mixed with oxtails, marinated beef, congealed pig’s blood, and pig’s knuckles. It is another famous street food in Vietnam.
Cao Lau is a popular street food of Hoi An. The dish consists of a rice noodles bowl in which bean sprouts, croutons, and sliced pork are mixed. It is regarded as a carnal sin to visit Hoi An and not having Cao Lau for lunch or dinner. It is one of the top wholesome street foods sold in Vietnam.
Served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, Bo Kho is the Vietnamese version of Boeuf Bourguignon in France. Prepared with tendon and beef shank that is stewed in lemongrass and a spicy broth, this dish is served with a loaf of plain or toasted Banh Mi bread by the side. To eat this dish, you need to cut the bread into several small pieces and dip it in the sauce, before eating it with a carrot and tender meat. Also, this dish is available in the form of noodle soup too. Usually served with chewy rice noodles, this dish is known as Hu Tieu Bo Kho. Served with egg noodles, this dish is known as Mi Bo Kho. While ordering a Bo Kho noodle soup, make sure you order a loaf of bread for dipping.
Baguettes (Banh Mi)
Banh Mi is another staple street food in Vietnam. This dish is usually sold at small, street-side shops. As with all baguettes, you can put many things in them. It can be anything like a filling of a pork liver pate, shredded carrot and radish, Vietnamese sausage, pieces of cucumber and mayonnaise, and chili. This dish makes a fulfilling feed.
Grilled Pork (Thit Nuong)
Pork marinated in spices and sauce, grilled roadside, on smoking charcoals. For all barbecue lovers, Thit Nuong is a food that is difficult to resist. While perfect eaten skewered as a meaty snack, Thit Nuong is also available in several Vietnamese food stalls. Stuffed in a baguette, covered in spring rolls and the Vietnamese famous topping noodles, this dish is a must-try.
Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls)
This Vietnamese dish consists of thin vermicelli noodles, shrimp, slices of pork, lettuce, and basil. All these are tightly wrapped in translucent Banh Trang, i.e. rice papers. Because of its subtle taste, Goi Cuon is generally dipped in a sauce made of green chilies topped with crushed peanuts. This popular appetizer or snack is also a healthier option to Cha Gio, which is an egg roll made with mung bean noodles, different spices, and minced pork.
Com Tam (Broken Rice)
Com Tam literally means “Broken Rice” in Vietnamese, and is usually served with diced green onions, fried egg, and varieties of meats. While it is a popular option for lunch or breakfast, you enjoy this dish any time of the day as it is not much costly, with street markets and food stalls by the roadside selling foods for nearly VND 20,000 per bowl. Different types of toppings are used like Suon Nuong, Bi, and Cha Trung. Com Tam is also served with pickled veggies, slices of cucumber, and Nu o c Cham Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Pork in Thick Noodles (Cao Lau)
Cao Lau is the right example of diversity in Vietnamese food. The origin of this famous dish is The Old Trading Port of hoi An and while possibly suitable to Ramen Restaurants of Japan it is clearly Vietnamese. Thick noodles topped with juicy pieces of pork served drenched in a thin broth made of pork and herb. A lot of Vietnamese greens, peanuts, bean sprouts, and a side of light prawn crackers. It tastes great!
Banh Beo Chen
Fun to eat and looks awesome for clicking a photograph, Banh Beo Chen is tasty steamed glutinous rice cakes served in small round saucers. It is a traditional afternoon snack or an appetizer. Usually, it is eaten during lunch or dinner. Topped with some variant of pork fat or pork skin, shrimp, and fried shallot, these cakes are generally served in a tray of 9 to 12 small saucers, with a metal spoon, and a bowl of sweet nuoc mam pha, i.e. mixed fish sauce. To eat, you need to pour a spoon of this mixed fish sauce on the rice cake, use the spoon to loosen the edges, and then have the entire cake.
If you love crabs, this dish is for you. This is a rice vermicelli noodle soup made with crab and tomato. It is one of the most popular meals in North Vietnam. Originated in the Red River Delta, both the topping and the broth are prepared from rice paddy crabs that have been grounded into a fine paste. This paste is cooked with tomatoes until you see these thickened curb patties float at the top.